The risk for active shooter incidents at schools has moved beyond the school walls and onto the athletic field. 

Concerns about school safety are going into overtime.

The alarming increase in shootings after hours at high school football games highlights the ‘round the clock threat of gun violence and the importance of continued preparedness for students, families, and communities. 

This year, there have been upwards of 40 reported shootings at prep sporting events nationwide, a deeply unsettling surge of more than double versus 2019. According to David Riedman, founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database, this pace is on track to match 2022 when there was at least one shooting at a football game each week. The reality of what’s leading to these incidents is also distressing.

“Almost all of these shootings at sporting events are disputes that escalate into a shooting,” Riedman said. “So it’s not somebody who was planning to commit a shooting that night. It’s somebody that when there was an altercation because they were armed, it turned into a shooting.”

Riedman predicts the number of incidents at high school sporting events alone could end up close to 60 this year, several multiples more than a decade ago—in part because of a troubling trend.

“What seems to be different is there are more teenagers with guns than a decade ago. And habitually carrying a gun with them.”

This increase in the availability and use of firearms by young individuals coupled with less-than-robust security measures at many of these events, offers a reminder that situational awareness is vital. While there’s been a boost in security measures in response to growing incidents, efforts often fall short. Security screenings remain inconsistent, and evidence suggests local authorities are frequently ill-equipped to handle large scale crises. 

But for both educators and spectators, there are ways to adapt. Effective security measures can be achieved by using a layered approach of technology (like metal detectors and security cameras), procedures (locking all entrances except those for direct stadium access), and having security personnel regularly patrol before, during and after the game. 

Attendees should always have an exit plan, and be aware of potential escape routes or hiding places. Even if you aren’t a target, that doesn’t mean you can’t potentially be a victim. 

“When there are gunshots, they’re often accompanied by confusion and sometimes innocent bystanders get hurt,” said Riedman.

In light of these grim statistics, it’s crucial for school administrations, law enforcement, and communities to come together to address the issue. Enhancing security, implementing stricter regulations, and promoting awareness and preparedness among attendees are steps in the right direction. Parents, students, and spectators should remain vigilant, knowing that a proactive approach to safety can make a significant difference in preventing further tragedy during—and after—school hours.

With expertise including Run-Hide-Fight, active shooter preparedness and response, situational awareness, de-escalation techniques, and more, The Power of Preparedness provides critical guidance that can save lives. Contact us to learn more.